PCS union in DWP: How not to negotiate – part 1

Give away something for nothing.

A notable feature of the proposed flexible working and mobility deal in DWP is that AAs and AOs they are being offered in return for Saturday and late working a few pounds more than the minimum wage. In other words the Left Unity majority position is that those grades should give up their weekends in return for something they will get in essence any way.

The Conservatives have set out future changes in the minimum wage (which they are calling the ‘living wage’). This has all Parties’ support. Therefore it will happen unless there is a huge political change in this country. The Left Unity majority position (we are terming it that way as there are a number of LU DWP GEC members who are opposed to the deal) is that you cannot trust the Tories (which in general is true) and therefore whilst the future changes in the minimum wage will match those that DWP is offering, by signing up to the deal members are guaranteed to get the payments set out in the offer come what may.

Therefore the judgement to be made is whether the Tories will renege on their very public vow to increase the minimum wage. We say that on balance they will not.

Firstly, it is their main economic, indeed in essence their only policy to increase living standards. It would therefore be a major political reverse if they rowed back on the changes to the minimum wage. The increases in the minimum wage will allow them under Universal Credit to cut benefit payments for those working; therefore it is an important element in reducing government spending. As said all Parties support the increases so even if the Tories did change their mind then the other Parties would push for the increases. Given the increasingly fragmented state of the Tory party, a state that has forced the Government to back track on a number of policies e.g. academies, it would be a fair bet that there would be enough Tory MPs who would rebel if the government tried to stop the increases in the minimum wage. Lastly, hopefully the public and labour movement backlash would be so great that the Tories would know that they could not afford the price if they back tracked.

The Left Unity majority position should know this and if rational should have said to the DWP that they need much more than the minimum wage for AAs and AOs; in other words they would not give away something (e.g. the weekend) for nothing (changes in the minimum wage that are going to happen). They should have said that the minimum wage (and the name gives its intent away) is the floor for wage bargaining, not the ceiling. They of course did not. Instead they are claiming that AAs and AOs getting the minimum wage is an achievement. Instead it is a monument to failure.


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